It's July 10th And I'm Still Eating Potato Salad...

All true and left-over from a July 4th celebration.  My grandma taught me and a party-goer requested the recipe and I thought, "Huh.  I don't have a recipe." And so I set out to re-create how I made the potato salad for this event.  Then I decided I would share it here on my blog.  What's for dinner tonight?  The last of the potato salad.  

INGREDIENTS:
1 dozen eggs
6-8 Russet Potatoes (6 if large, 8 if a few smaller potatoes)
Steinfeld’s baby dill pickles (I like 10-12)
Mayonnaise
Dijon mustard
Pickle juice (trust me - it works)
Salt (to taste) optional
Pepper (to taste) optional
Garlic salt or powder (to taste) optional
Celery salt (to taste) optional
Paprika (for garnishment) optional
____________________________________________________________________________
 
DIRECTIONS:
-Put two large pans of water on the stove on high to bring to boil at the same time (one for eggs, one for potatoes)
-Wash and scrub potatoes
-Cut potatoes into chunks, skin on
-Put eggs in one pan carefully
-Put potato chunks in second pan
-Once eggs come to good, rolling boil, take them off the heat and cover, setting them aside to cook in the boiled water (a good 10-12 mins works, or until you are done boiling potatoes)
-Allow potato chunks to boil until soft, but not mealy (eggs should be good to go at this time)
-Take potatoes off heat and drain in a colander or whatever method works, allow them to cool
-Drain eggs, bathe eggs and allows them to sit in cold water
-Gently peel potato skins off the chunks (I like to use my hands but whatever works), the skins should come off fairly easily
-Put peeled potato chunks back in pan
-Take eggs out of cold water bath and peel one by one, putting in pan with peeled potatoes (if you can get them peeled by the membrane just inside the shell you will get a lot more egg)
-Mash potatoes and eggs together (I like to use a hand potato masher as you can control the size of the eggs and potatoes much better, but again, whatever works)
-At any point, dice the baby dill pickles (I am a horrible “dicer”, so I get them in irregular chunks close to the size)
-Throw pickles in with eggs and potatoes
-Add between 1 ½ to 2 cups of mayo to mix or as little or as much as you like (do start with a lesser amount and add to taste so you do not end up with too much mayo)
-Add between 2-3 tbsp of dijon mustard, or as little or as much as you like (follow same directions as mayo - start small)
-Add in a little pickle juice to cut the mayo and mustard, or none at all (again, start small as you do not want too much liquid)
-Add salt/pepper/garlic salt or powder to taste
*works best to make a day ahead for time to cool down and chill, taste again before serving and adjust mayo/mustard/pickle juice/spices if necessary, but even a few hours in the fridge will allow it to cool
 
IMG_1072.jpg

Words In Me

At a young age they claimed me.  And I was forever gone.  Roaming the bookshelves in libraries.  Secreting away books too big and too long for me. I read them anyway.

I could learn anything, go anywhere, be anyone.  Still I remained me.  The same and yet a little different with every word I took in.  Hungering and thirsting, more, more, more! No book big enough.

Until one day I discovered I too had words in me.  And all the words I took in came pouring back out.  The same, but different.  In the coming of my own age I could tell my story to the spaces on my page.  No judgment, no remorse, only release.

A secret space reserved for me.  Freed to fly on wings of speech I said all the things I never could out loud. 

Astoria Review


I enjoyed this book, though the end seemed a bit abrupt and then here I was in the epilogue. I would have liked a little bit more of an ending, but otherwise, a very good read. I spent my first 8 years in Astoria and frequently go back as I still have family in the area. I learned a lot that I didn't know and confirmed some I had suspected. What strikes me most is how Astor simply decided he should be the one to build the "Western" empire. He laid it on the line financially, but nothing physically and then chastised his men for failing after they had been through such horrific experiences. That seems to be a consistent way with most of the richest people and those who specifically were involved in the start of our country, and most of those being white men. Though he started from not much, it does not seem he had any clear idea of the absolute difficulties they faced or maybe he figured if he did it, so should they be able to. I have no idea. I definitely would recommend this book if you like history and to learn more about the first American outpost on what is now the West Coast.
 

18085481.jpg

 

 

I Hate Mother's Day

It is true.  I hate the build-up, hate the commercials and hate the fact that is a multi-million dollar industry.  As if you could put a price tag on a mother's life.  I hold my breath waiting for the day to come and exhale when it is over.  Pick any other word: loathe, despise, abhor, detest.  I feel all of them.

I hate Mother's Day because it reminds me of what I have lost, my own mother.  On good days, I imagine us sitting on a beach in Ireland at sunset, wild horses racing back and forth on the narrow crescent of sand, my head on her shoulder, her arm around me, sitting up against an old log thrown up on the beach.  She lets me talk and talk and gives me advice and I feel stronger.  On bad days, in the dark I lay in my bed alone, silent tears slip down my cheeks and I wonder what I did to deserve this.    

It wasn't supposed to be like this.  She should have had more than 2 years with my nephew Connor, more than 6 years with my nephew Canaan, more than 19 years with my brother Benj, more than 30 years with my brother Jason.  And certainly more than 33 years with me. She will never get to know Audree, my little 3 year-old spitfire great-niece. Sometimes, like now, when I think about it, the tears well and I become overwhelmed with sadness.  

This is not a ploy for pity.  It is how it is.  Those of us who have lost our mothers know what this feels like.  Most days are good days, now, almost 14 years later, but still I cannot ask why for more than 2 seconds or I become quagmired in a question never to be answered.  I choose not to be stuck and move forward, though most times I am never sure of my place in this world.

Our mother equals our first home in this world.  And all of a sudden the ground beneath my home gave way and I started falling an endless fall into an abyss and I am not sure that fall will ever stop.  Perhaps most forms of grief are like this when you lose someone you love.  I wish I could go to lunch with her, buy her flowers, take a walk with her.  Some days I could really use her wisdom.  I would trade 10 years of my life for one more hug from her or one more day with her.  My rational mind knows it to be impossible but the child inside keens for her.

They say I will see her again.  Perhaps that is true, but fuck platitudes.  As if that is supposed to give some relief or some comfort that maybe someday, when I die, I will see her again.  It is what people say when they have no idea what to say.  And I don't blame them because it is hard to know what to say.  Most things come to an end, but this, for me, this will never end. I am glad Mother's Day is over for another year, because I hate it.  

 

 

Happy Birthday Dad.

Today is my dad's birthday.  In honor of you Dad, I intend to consume a slice of carrot cake and a tall glass of cold milk.  My brother Benj thought we should write you letters and mail them to you for your birthday but of course I did not get it done.  And I decided it would be better to post it publicly on my blog.  It is my first blog in over 7 months and I can think of no better way to get started again than to say "Thank You" to you Dad and wish you a very public "Happy Birthday"

Keith Urban sings a song, "Song For Dad", off his "Golden Road" album.  I heard it again a few weeks ago and it hit me.  One of the lines reads "he did the best he could".  As children I used to think you and mom were superheroes.  And of course, I know now that is not true.  But it takes a long time to recognize that as a child.

One of my very first memories with you was when we went to the fireworks in Seaside, probably with Grandma and Grandpa. I may have been anywhere from 2-3 years old, I am not entirely sure.  I hid in your chest and I remember feeling safe as you gathered me in your arms and shielded me from the loud and scary sounds and lights.  Now I love fireworks!  

I remember when you guys took me to get my first bike and Jason got his first Big Wheel and mine was a bright shiny red Schwinn.  I was so excited!  It took me forever to learn to ride, but I did.  We lived in Astoria and about the same time you had this old motorcycle that never worked but you would give us rides around the yard and try to get it started by running it down the big hill in our back yard of the house on Grand Avenue.  It never worked, of course.  You and mom and Uncle Pat and Aunt Linda would play Millebornes and one of my favorite Christmases ever was in that house.  Mom made candy and I got fashion plates.  

We had the real 8-track tapes and vinyl and you let me listen to classic rock bands like the Eagles, Fleetwood Mac and the Doobie Brothers.  You had this album of Cat Stevens and it fascinated me.  I would spend what seemed like hours looking at it mainly because there was some sort of spider on it.  We moved up to Forest Grove and then Banks after a series of logging accidents forced you to train for a new career.  You had been going to school during the week and then coming home on the weekends.  Honestly, I don't know how you did it. 

I started playing t-ball and softball and was so excited for my new cleats I ran back and forth outside Grandpa's apartment in Forest Grove the night I got them just to prove my cleats made me run faster.  We moved to Banks and I played softball and then volleyball and then we moved on to Portland because you had to move into the city because you started working for the city.  I really, really wanted to go to Grant High School because I had met some guys who went to Grant that came to wrestle at Banks Jr. High. One weekend, my parents blindfolded my brother Jason and I and drove us through the Portland to show us where our new house was.  2 blocks from Grant High School.

I could go on and on with memories and I think what I am trying to say is even through all the difficulties, and there are lots, I would not trade you for anyone else.  I can honestly say I love you with all my heart.  Last summer we had such a great time with you and I miss you!  I felt sad when you left and I can't tell you how many times when I'm driving I'm looking for places you could move to so you could be closer.  Benj and I have even talked about coming to visit you in Montana.  And if you ever do want to move, you know you already have a moving crew.  

I am proud of the way you have persevered, if I can say that, and I just want you to know that.  I have so many good memories and you taught me so many good things.  My love of music, the written word, teaching me to be independent, my quirky sense of humor, my heritage and I am proud to say I am your daughter.  So watch this video, and listen to this song, and though he talks about being a son or man,  you can insert daughter or woman in there.  Happy Birthday Dad, I love you so much!